Many people may hear of someone being accused of “embezzlement,” and they may think that the individual did something truly awful. The term immediately invokes an image of a greedy, untrustworthy person who committed a financial crime. And while the crime is financial in nature, not everyone that is accused of embezzlement is found guilty of the crime, nor does it mean they are greedy or untrustworthy.
First of all, what is embezzlement? It is when someone in a trusted position uses his or her power and position to steal funds or assets from another person or entity. You will usually hear about such a charge in a corporate context, where a high ranking individual took money from the company — meaning he or she embezzled that money from the company.
There are four major aspects to an embezzlement case that need to be fulfilled in order for such a charge to “stick.” The first is that a fiduciary relationship is present, meaning that each party relied on the other and they both trusted the other to act in their benefit. The second is that the accused individual must have acquired the funds, assets or property through the relationship. The third is that ownership of the funds, assets or property must have been transferred to the accused or to another person. Fourth and finally, the accused must have done this intentionally.
If all four point can’t be proven by the prosecution, then an embezzlement charge can’t be fully supported.
Source: FindLaw, “Embezzlement,” Accessed June 14, 2016